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Virgin Islands Salsa Festival

The Virgin Islands Salsa Festival is a celebration of Latino heritage influenced by the Afro-Caribbean roots of our people. Our variety of different ethnic backgrounds has made us a distinct melting pot of traditions, rhythms, and dance which has inspired Salsa in the Virgin Islands from an array of instrumental beginnings of other dance forms. VISF is a two-day event that will include a variety of events including a culinary Latin cuisine class taught by the distinguished 2019 VI Culinary Ambassador, Chef Ralph Motta, a taste and paint class with highly respected local artist Eliana Schuster-Brown, dance classes in salsa, bachata, and kizomba taught by industry professionals such as Alexander Emanuel, Lisa O'neill Thomas, and Michael Byola. A special performance and salsa dance competition will highlight the night's event with music powered by Unlimited Sounds and a special guest DJ from Puerto Rico, DJ Velcro. VISF is promised to highlight the significance and unique flavor of our Latin culture as we celebrate what truly makes us the American Paradise of Diversity.

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GET TO KNOW THE VISF ALL-STARS

Self-taught and fearless, Chef Ralph Motta’s inspiration is derived from the cultures and traditions native to the island of St. Croix in the United States Virgin Islands. Its rich history, blended with an ever-growing influx of diverse cultures, is responsible for the evolution of what he refers to as modern day Crucian cuisine. Surrounded by living encyclopedias of cultural recipes and techniques, Chef Motta says, “While growing up on St. Croix it was impossible to be blind to the preparation of local cuisine.”  He had his pick from family heirlooms, such as his grandmother Claire Motta’s mortar and pestle, which she used to produce “pound seasoning,” which is a staple ingredient in every savory Crucian dish, to his mother’s silver mixing bowls handed down to her by Grandma Ena. It is the history behind these pieces that have evoked a desire in Chef Motta to both preserve the culture and evolve the legacy while doing so. Formally a trained fine artist, Pratt Institute grad Chef Motta finds himself compelled to experiment with an array of culinary techniques both traditional and contemporary. While paired with a passion to produce art, Chef Motta designs every dish by juxtaposing the modern aesthetic of contemporary abstraction with that of his traditional flavors. His style can be described as a fusion of Caribbean, French and American cuisines. Located on St. Croix, Chef Motta is currently the Executive Chef at Motta Cuisine, a boutique catering company established in 2014. Sponsored by the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism, Chef Motta was named the Culinary Ambassador for the USVI in both 2017 and 2018 consecutively.

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Eliana L. Schuster-Brown is a native daughter of St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Upon joining the United States Air Force in 2005, Eliana was afforded the opportunity to immerse herself in diverse cultures and experiences, many of which drove her to seek refuge in the arts. In time, she realized it was her peace and she chose to share it with the world. Eliana comes from a long line of musicians, singers, dancers, photographers, and artists alike. Upon completing her B.S. in Psychology, her initial goal work with the children only, but after doing a few paint parties with mixed crowds, she learned that there was another way to provide healing for mental and spiritual wellness. Studies show the reduction of stress, a decrease of depression, and strengthening of the immune system functions are benefits of artistic endeavors. This has inspired Eliana to create her own business of hosting private/castings for expecting mothers as well as teaching art to students from preschool to high school. It’s embedded in her very being and with that, she is driven to impact anyone willing, with what she learned and loved for all these years.

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In 1993, Alex began his formal training at the age of 13 with Pointe Dance Academy under the direction of Heidi Wright & Sonja Dickerson-Faust. Since then he has been the recipient of numerous dance scholarships to train with the prestigious Ballet Concierto de Puerto, Cheshire Dance Centre in Hamden, Connecticut, Valencia College Summer Dance Program, The University of the Arts, The Rock School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,  The Joffrey Ballet School, Dance Theatre of Harlem and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre in New York City. He has danced professionally with Eleone Dance Theatre and the internationally renowned Koresh Dance Company in Philadelphia, PA. During his professional performance training, he has worked with internationally recognized choreographers including Donald Byrd, Milton Meyers, Robert Battle, and Abdell Salaam of Forces of Nature Dance Company in New York City. In addition to his many years of performing, he has taught numerous master classes at universities and dance schools throughout the United States and continues to expand on his extensive list of choreography credits. This includes but is not limited to the Golden Scissors Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C., Patrick Swayze's Dirty Dancing Celebration at the Annenberg Theater in Philadelphia, the Miami Heat Championship Dance Team, and The Boscov's Thanksgiving Day Parade, as well as Old Navy & GAP commercial industrials. Mr. Simon has been recognized as the leading male dancer and choreographer of the U.S. Virgin Islands in which he has had the distinguished pleasure of serving as a guest choreographer for the V.I. Hal Jackson Talented Teen Pageant, Miss Black & Gold, Miss Maroon & White for Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA and was formerly the owner and Director of Miss Urban Teenz International. Currently, Mr. Simon is the proud Founder & Artistic Director of Cruzan Dance Company, Incorporated. 

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Being in love with music and dance her whole life, Lisa M. O’Neill-Thomas a St.Croix native has performed in events in the entertainment scene since 2001, ranging from her Caribbean roots to the African sounds of Semba. Lisa was a student of Caribbean Dance school and a member of Caribbean Dance Company for 17 years. Performing the majority of her life, dance was at the center of everything she cared about. Her knowledge of dance spans from Latin rhythms of bomba, salsa, merengue, and bachata to her technical training in modern, African, ballet, and more. Her love affair with dance left her constantly seeking new opportunities to learn dances even while abroad. In 2016 she found a new passion for a dance close to her heart “Kizomba “. Kizomba is a genre of dance and a musical genre originating in Angola in 1984. Kizomba means "party" in Kimbundu, a Bantu language spoken by Ambundu in Angola. Lisa has been trained by some of the best in the USA and internationally such as Lucia Noriega, Eddy Vents, Lee Rios, Charles Ogar, and more. Lisa is the winner of the 2018 Kizomba competition B.A.A.D. (Best all-around dance competition) winning 1st place. Lisa has been teaching Kizomba for 6 years. She began teaching in San Antonio Texas at Semeneya Dance Studio with Lee Rios and Adrian Soltero in 2017 as well as with Fabian Bustos at Inspired movement in Austin, Texas. She was the director of the Kizomba dance team “Kizunto” for 6 seasons from 2017 to 2019. Lisa’s passion for the history and love of the dance will leave you inspired and touched.

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Michael Bondo is a professional dancer and fitness trainer with over twenty years of experience. He has taught dance and fitness classes throughout the world including at the US Embassy, the United Nations, and various fitness clubs throughout Nairobi, Kenya. Mike has a very distinctive style, oozes charm and confidence, and is a passionate (and very patient!) instructor, and these qualities earned him the nickname "Magic Mike"... His motto is: "If you can move, you can dance!" and he has worked miracles on many self-proclaimed “two-left-feet” students! Mike's love for a healthy lifestyle, body awareness, and dancing led him to train as a fitness instructor and ultimately translated into some high-energy aerobics classes. But he was always curious and started to venture into other dance styles, with the main focus on Latin Dances such as Salsa, Bachata, Merengue, Argentine Tango, and Cha-Cha. Mike is a music aficionado which helped fuel his interest in many dance styles such as the Afro-Latin dances Semba, Kizomba, and UrbanKiz. Mike is also a bodybuilder and competed in many competitions in Kenya where he also became a Certified Personal Trainer. And he is a Certified ACE Group Fitness Instructor. Mike decided to combine his two loves, dance and fitness, so he traveled to South Africa to become a certified Zumba® Instructor. He is also licensed to teach other specialties like Zumba® Toning, Aqua Zumba®, Zumba® Kids, Zumba® Gold, Zumba® Sentao, and Zumba® Step.  Mike teaches group and private classes. He is also a certified personal trainer. In addition, he organizes and performs at private parties and social events. Contact Mike to schedule a private training session or dance class.

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Norbin Felix “DJ Felix” who was born and raised on St. Croix, Virgin Islands, has been enthralled by the various vibes and sounds of music from a young age but it wasn’t until 2007 that he truly honed in on the art form for the partying crowd. He and a cousin at the time — like all music enthusiasts — were simply mixing up sounds and doing shoutouts for fun when they decided to take it to the deejay level, and UNLTD. SOUNDS (SONIDO SIN LIMITE) was born. The name derives from Felix’s expertly combined mixes and sounds of multi-genres, vocals and instrumentals that delight dance crowds and has come to define his DJ style. Felix routinely headlines the annual outdoor festival billed as Noche de San Juan, Coquito Festival to name a few. Also, you’ll catch him performing at various gigs to include clubs, as well as weddings, office, beach and house parties. It’s his selection of beats, mixes and music genre that makes individuals groove and his technique of capitalizing on a wide range of music, as well as mixing custom beats is known to keep dancers on their feet. Remember to tell someone about Unlimited Sounds because, We Bring the Party to You!

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Andrés A. Ramos, better known as Puerto Rico-based MC, DJ, and producer “Velcro,” is a staple in the island’s independent music scene and a cornerstone of Latin American hip hop music and culture. With a career spanning almost 20 years and numerous albums and mixtapes to his name to date, he is a champion of “true-school” hip hop and a renowned and reliable purveyor of a good ol’ time on the dance floor. His 5 albums of original hip hop music, available on all streaming platforms, are all widely regarded as classics in the Puerto Rican underground hip hop canon. He has also been featured on songs by the likes of producer Andrés Levin and Grammy-winning Costa Rican vocalist Debi Nova; Mexican MC Bocafloja and Akil Ammar; British producers The Next Men; Venezuelan group 12” Ninjazz and Argentinian producer Gas-Lab, among many others; and perhaps most notably, on the title track of NYC’s celebrated all-female mariachi group Flor de Toloache’s Latin Grammy-winning album “Las Caras Lindas.” He has also shared the stage with the likes of Cultura Profética, Residente & Calle 13, Tony Touch, Gaby Moreno, Tego Calderón, Álvaro Díaz, Anita Tijoux, Crazy Legs, and the Rock Steady Crew, of which he is a member, to name just a few. As a DJ, he holds the title of maintaining the longest-standing weekly dance party -going on 16 years-- in the history of San Juan's nightlife: "Los Lunes Clásicos" at beloved venue La Respuesta, in Santurce; and has rocked venues and clubs across the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States.

REGISTER FOR TWO EXCITING EVENTS 

SABOR Y PINTURA
Friday, June 3rd, 2022 6:00pm - 7:30pm
@ KARMA "The Event Place" 1D Estate Diamond
(Above the Galloways Building)
Taste Sabor with Chef Ralph Motta - Immerse yourself in an environment where Chef Motta will prepare Latin-inspired cuisine dishes to learn and taste topped off with a brief history lesson of the Latino & Afro-Caribbean culinary arts in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Participants will take part in the class while tasting and enjoying special cocktails designed for this class.  

Single Person: $65.00

Couple: $100.00 (Save $35.00)




Friday, June 3rd, 2022 8:00pm - 9:30pm

@ KARMA "The Event Place" 1D Estate Diamond (Above the Galloways Building)
Use Pintura with Eliana B Artistry to create a masterpiece on canvas while relaxing in an ambiance of creativity. You will be challenged to create a Latin and Caribbean-inspired art piece led by our highly respected artist Eliana Schuster-Brown all while tasting specially made appetizers and sipping on cocktails designed for that evening. 


Single Person: $65.00

Couple: $100.00 (Save $35.00) Each registration will receive an autographed VISF apron, lite bites, free cocktails, and $10.00 off from the general admission ticket for the remaining of the night with music powered by DJ Norbin of Unltd Sounds. 

Combo Event Discounts:
 Available on the Registration Form

Refund Policy: NO REFUNDS










BURN THE FLOOR
Saturday, June 4th, 2022 @ Beeston Hill Health & Wellness Center Cardio Room

Join in on all the fun while you "Burn the Floor" with all the latest dance moves taught by a distinguished staff of industry professionals. Learn the Bachata, Kizomba, and Salsa on 1. A free 2-Hour class has been specially designed for children between the ages of 9 - 17. See below for more details.


SALSA 4 KIDS w/ Alex
AGE: 9 - 17
TIME: 9:00am  - 11:00am
LOCATION: Beeston Hill Health & Wellness Cardio Room
COST: FREE


BACHATA w/ Michael & Lisa 

AGE: 17 & Up
TIME: 11:00am  - 12:30pm
LOCATION: Beeston Hill Health & Wellness Cardio Room
COST: $20.00


KIZOMBA w/ Michael & Lisa 

AGE: 17 & Up
TIME: 1:00pm  - 2:30pm
LOCATION: Beeston Hill Health & Wellness Cardio Room
COST: $20.00


SALSA ON 1 w/ Alex

AGE: 18 & Up
TIME: 7:00pm  - 8:30pm
LOCATION: KARMA "The Event Place" 1D Estate Diamond (Above the Galloways Building) in Sunny Isle
COST: $20.00 (General Admission)


Refund Policy: NO REFUNDS


CLASS DISCOUNTS ARE AVAILABLE FOR DOUBLE OR TRIPLE PACKAGES. A one-time registration fee of $5.00 is required to be paid upon registration for any of the bachata, kizomba, and salsa on 1 class. You do not need to pay a separate registration fee for each class. 
 

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DANCE COMPETITION

Dance like everyone is watching on Saturday, June 4th, 2022 at KARMA "The Event Place" The competition takes place right after the Kizomba performance by Michael & Lisa. Rules are simple. To enter simply register by clicking the button below and paying your entry fee for each performer. The winner receives a $500 cash prize, trophy and the coveted title of the 2022 Virgin Islands Burn the Floor Winner. 

DESCRIPTION: This is a couple salsa division with NO cabaret tricks, lifts, or any acrobatics in the air.

PARTICIPANTS: This division can be male and female dancing together or same gender dancing together.

AGE: You must be 18 years of age or older in order to compete.

TIME: The presented routine can be no more than three minutes. Participants can have their routine prepared in advance or can dance live socially on the night of the competition. 

LIMITS: You cannot do any acrobats in this decision. This means at least one hand or foot for each person must be touching and connected to the floor when connected to your partner. 

SCORING: You and your partner will be judged on technique, synchronization, timing, costumes, musicality, and your ability to be as creative as possible. 

ENTRY FEES: $20 per couple. 

MUSIC: If you are preparing a choreographed routine. You must e-mail your music to visf@cruzandancencenter.org. Please include your and your partner's name in the e-mail. 

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